BUNAC Group Flights: The reality of flying 11,500 miles across the world with strangers

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In February 2015 Lauren took to the skies with a bunch of BUNACers (who, at that time, were strangers) on a BUNAC Group Flight to New Zealand, including a three-day stopover in Hong Kong. Great company, new places and amazing memories. The Group Flight was the mot epic start to her new life down under. Don't believe her? Let's reminisce, Lauren. 

I booked BUNAC's Work New Zealand Essentials package in February of 2015. I was in my last year of university and whilst my friends started to stress about graduate jobs, I was debating the pro's and con's of a BUNAC Group Flight. 

Important Decisions

The Group Flight does cost a bit more than booking your own direct flight to New Zealand which makes it a very serious decision to make. After all, everyone knows how little we backpackers like parting with our money. However, you get so much more for your money on the Group Flight. Now, with the gift of hindsight I can say I totally made the right decision. 

NEWS FLASH

New Zealand is really, really far away! It is a long flight. Actually, it's two long flights because even if you decided to fly direct you will still have a layover. Now I'm a huge fan of the on-board entertainment systems, but it can still get pretty boring sitting still and alone for the entire journey. I appreciated having the company of my group to break up the monotony. 

In between films we got to know each other and exchanged travel plans and ideas. We learnt about James's weird eating habits and encouraged him to try his first ever melon at the age of 25. We even got all sentimental over half of the group sleeping on each other domino style. Now that's proof a real bond has been made. When you let someone sleep on you despite only knowing met them a few days before. 

Laying it over

The real highlight of the trip though was the layover. Hong Kong is approximately halfway between England and New Zealand. It is an interesting place with lots of culture and sights to explore. Coincidentally it is also where the group flight has a three-day layover. Wait, what's that BUNAC? You mean to say that this isn't a coincidence and is actually carefully researched and planned? Gee, these guys really do take care of us!

The layover is a full three days with two nights in a 4* hotel. Two afternoons are spent with your group on private guided tours around the city. The rest of the time is yours to do with what you please. (A.K.A you get the best of both worlds.) I spent the entire three days with various people from my flight group and had a blast exploring the city. We all really bonded over our journey, so that when it came to saying good bye to half the group flying to Australia (the traitors) we were all quite sad.

#TeamBUNAC

Those of us who did go to New Zealand arrived as a team. We had become close over our time in Hong Kong and now we had each other's back. When one person found a great SIM deal with Vodafone they told us all and we went down to the shop together to get it. In the evenings we would split the cost of groceries and Luke, who happened to be a professional chef, would cook us all dinner. (We would try to help but were usually relegated to making the table.) By the end of the week we did a group load of laundry and were folding each other's underwear.

Travel buddies

I arrived in New Zealand with no plans beyond the first two nights in the hostel. I ended up extending this to a week. Then after that week I got on a Kiwi Experience bus with Shauna from my group. We travelled together for about three weeks until we reached Wellington. She ended up staying in Wellington and getting a job. I met up with her again a few times whenever I was passing through. Six months after first arriving in New Zealand I met up again with Anna, also from my group flight, and we travelled together for two weeks in my newly bought car. 

The BUNAC Group Flight really did give me friends and travel companions. It gave us some company when we wished for it but none of us had to change our plans to accommodate the others. We did our own thing and met up when our paths crossed. It was the best of both solo and group travel.

Unsure about taking a BUNAC Group Flight? Do it! Check out our upcoming departures to Canada (with a three-day stopover in Iceland), Australia and New Zealand. A UK exclusive - they're great value and make great memories. Call us on 0333 999 7516 to book, or drop us an email to enquiries@bunac.org.uk. Happy travels!